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AIDS: charting a Christian Response
AIDS Resources

For more HIV/AIDS-related information, contact He Intends Victory

Or call: 800/HIV-HOPE.

For AIDS health info, contact the Centers for Disease Control

National AIDS Hotline: 1-800-342-2437      

National HIV/AIDS Hotline (Spanish): 1-800-344-7432       

Clearinghouse: 1-800-458-5231

 
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AIDS: Charting a Christian Response

By CBN.com

CBN.comAcquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome -- AIDS -- is the leading cause of death among Americans under age 44. First discovered in the U.S. in 1981, there is no known cure for the disease.

Today, there are 1 million known cases in the U.S. Half of the estimated 19.5 million cases worldwide are in Africa, and by the year 2000, 30-40 million are expected to be infected with the virus causing AIDS.

Despite the widespread impact of this disease, many know surprisingly little about AIDS and its transmission, and few in the church have developed a thoughtful, biblical response to those ravaged by this disease.

Much of the fear regarding AIDS centers around a lack of understanding as to how the disease is transmitted. Aids is spread through the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is transmitted in three ways -- sexual contact, contact with the blood infected by the virus, or through prenatal transmission.

Casual contact -- such as breathing the air around an infected person, or even touching or kissing -- has not led to transmission. As a result, those who do not carry HIV can, with little concern about infection, welcome those infected with HIV to join in all normal social interactions at the workplace, in their homes and in church.

As HIV incubates in the body -- a process that can take years-- it severely damages a patient's disease-fighting immune system. The resulting condition is called AIDS, which leaves the patient vulnerable to a host of diseases that otherwise would not be fatal.

Homosexual contact remains the most frequently reported way HIV is transmitted, which has led some Christians to incorrectly believe that AIDS is the direct punishment of God. AIDS may or may not be the consequence of sin. The disease strikes people of all ages, sexual behaviors and social boundaries. Therefore, HIV/AIDS should not be stigmatized and treated differently than other diseases.

Jesus is calling His church to reach out with compassion to those devastated by AIDS. Just as Jesus touched the afflicted of His day, the church's response should be guided by compassion. If sinful behavior is connected with the disease, the church should extend the same forgiveness that Jesus offers to all who repent.

As AIDS continues its alarming growth rate it is clear that this disease will soon impact every family and every church community. Christians must be diligent to overcome unwarranted fears regarding the disease and support those suffering from its deadly effects both with persistent prayer and the restorative actions that speak louder than words.

7 Day AIDS Prayer Guide

  1. Ask God to forgive the sins of the nation which have encouraged the spread of AIDS
  2. Intercede for those ravaged by the depression brought on by HIV/AIDS, and ask God to move powerfully in their lives.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your own fears and prejudices.
  4. Ask God to forgive the church for being slow to respond to the ministry needs of those with HIV and AIDS.
  5. Pray for churches across America to reach out with compassion to those with the disease.
  6. Pray for wisdom and protection for those in the medical community treating AIDS patients.
  7. Ask God to strengthen and equip the friends and families ofAIDS and HIV patients.

Helping a Friend with AIDS

Excerpted with permission from Love  Action Ministries

When someone you know learns that he or she has HIV or AIDS, you may feel inadequate to help. But with God's love, you don't need to feel apprehensive and inadequate. Here are some ways you can reach out.

  • Try not to avoid this person. At this time of crisis, be the friend you have always been, which is especially important because it instills hope.
  • Touch your friend. A hug or squeeze of the hand lets him or her know that you care. (You cannot contract AIDS simply by touching.)
  • Call and ask if it's okay to visit and leave your friend an option to decline if he or she isn't feeling well. Your friendship can keep loneliness and fear at a distance.
  • Don't be afraid to share the joy of knowing Jesus with your friend, but don't be overbearing. Don't demand immediate spiritual maturity and full understanding. On some occasions, the best witness is a simple prayer or a kindness. (James 2:14-17).
  • Be knowledgeable of God's power to heal even in the most difficult circumstances. It's okay when praying with your friend to offer hope by asking God to manifest His healing power. However, don't make your friend feel guilty if healing does not take place. Know that God may have other plans for your friend.
  • Spend time sharing a meal or invite the person to go for an outing, but ask about and know your friend's limitations.
  • Celebrate holidays and life with your friend by offering to decorate their home or hospital room.
  • When possible, stay in contact with your friend's family or care-partner. Offer to care for the person with AIDS in order to give their loved ones some free time.
  • It's okay to ask about the illness, but be sensitive to whether or not your friend wants to discuss it.
  • A person with AIDS has good and bad days. On bad days, treat your friend with extra care and compassion.
  • Offer transportation. Your friend may need a ride to treatment or the store or somewhere special for a break.
  • Be prepared for your friend to get angry with you for "no reason." Remember anger and frustration are often taken out on people most loved because it is safe and will be understood.
  • Keep your friend updated on current events, mutual friends and common interest. It may be a welcome diversion from talking about symptoms, doctors and treatments.
  • Offer to help with household chores. However, don't do something your friend would prefer to do for him or herself. Ask first.
  • Don't lecture or direct anger at your friend if he or she seems to be handling the illness in a way that you think is inappropriate. You may not understand what the feelings are and why certain choicesare being made.
  • If your friend is experiencing feelings of guilt or blame regarding the illness, remind that person that God is gracious, merciful and forgiving to all of us.
  • Do not confuse acceptance of the illness with defeat. Sometimes acceptance may free your friend to accept God's better plan for his or her life.
  • Don't allow your friend, his family or roommate to become isolated. Let them know about support and prayer groups, Bible studies and other concrete practical services offered by your church, ministry and/or agencies.
  • Talk about the future with your friend without denying the reality of today.
  • Take good care of yourself. Recognize your own limitations and honor them. Share with your pastor and Christian friends your own feelings of grief, helplessness and inadequacy. Getting the emotional and spiritual support you need will help you to be there for the person who has AIDS.
  • Remember to pray for your friend or family member, for their family members, and that God would use you as a messenger of His love and salvation through Jesus Christ.

Are you searching for peace with God? Find it here!

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Send us an e-mail using our online form so that we can pray with you -- or call our prayer line (1-800-759-0700) to talk to one of our counselors.

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Find a Church Near You

Related Articles:

The Honey That Kills: Combating AIDS With the Gospel

Muslim Cleric Healed of AIDS

Hope Flourishes in ‘Cradle of AIDS’

Can I Be Healed?

The International AIDS Conference: The Church Responds

Rick Warren Takes Public HIV Test on World AIDS Day

AIDS Resources:

For more HIV/AIDS-related information, contact He Intends Victory, 800/HIV-HOPE.

For AIDS health info, contact the Centers for Disease Control -- Hotline: 800/342-AIDS: Clearinghouse: 800/458-5231.

Scriptures for study: Matthew 8:2-3, 9:35-36, Luke 5:12-16, John 8:1-7, James 2:1-13, 5:14-16, Proverbs 14:34.

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